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Significance of Setting in The Dead by James Joyce - Essay Example

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This essay discusses the significance of setting in ‘The Dead’ by James Joyce. The setting of ‘The Dead’ plays an important role in the story and acts as a character on its own just like that of Gabriel Conroy. The physical environment plays an important role in affecting the psyche of a person…
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Significance of Setting in The Dead by James Joyce
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Download file to see previous pages The description of the atmosphere of the story is so vivid in every step of the development of the plot that it fuels the mind of the reader and creates a detailed image. The Dubliners are one of the finest collection of short stories by James Joyce, who is considered to be the master of prose when some go on to compare him next to only William Shakespeare and John Milton. He characteristically wrote about Dublin in all his works; almost all his stories, characters etc. were based in Dublin. Joyce understood the significance of the physical space in prose and would be very descriptive about them. Not just ‘The Dead’ but in all the other stories of Dubliner, one can find paragraphs written just about the physical background or the setting of events in a story. ‘The Dead’ which happens to be the longest short story in Dubliners is often termed as a novella owing to its length of more than 15000 words in which most of the words have been spent on describing the physical world. Firstly, I will discuss the various settings in the novella and the effect it has on the mind of the reader or on the character as depicted by Joyce. There are chiefly, two episodes in the story – The Party and The Supper being the first one and the second one being The Revelation obviously. The method adopted by me is that of free indirect discourse while stating the point of views of the various characters in the story. I’d also try to discuss the theme of the story through a reader-response criticism approach. The significance of the physical setting in the story is brought about by imagery which shall permeate this thesis throughout. Right from the inception of the story, Joyce beautifully describes the humble habitat of the ‘Three Graces of Dublin’. How the spinster sisters had after the death of their brother Pat, thirty years ago, left the house in Stony Batter and taken their only niece, Mary Jane, to live with them in the upper floor of the dark crude house on Usher’s Island, which they had rented from a corn-factor (Joyce 88). The ‘Three Graces of Dublin’ believed in a cosseted existence and would often throw parties in which they’d invite their friends and relatives for some merry-making. Even though the house was gaunt and dark, the ladies had converted it into a pleasure-dome suited to their tastes. The upper floor of the house where the ladies lived was brimming with excitement on the day of the story. The aunts had turned their bathroom into a ladies dressing-room (Joyce 88) and their living room had been half-turned into a dance-floor while the other half housed the supper tables along with a sideboard containing cutlery (Joyce 92). The ladies were into music and dance, while Aunt Kate and Mary Jane taught piano, Aunt Julia was a singer himself. Nonetheless, a closed square piano was kept on one side of the room for providing entertainment to the guests (Joyce 92). Joyce rhetorically writes how the hood of the square piano was closed and it served the purpose of a sideboard for viands and sweets. This description tells us that the ladies lived in a small house with just enough space for the three of them but nevertheless were given to throwing parties and made the most of their living there. They were content with their living and the guests too didn’t complain of the paucity of space or comfort in any kind. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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